Assessing Behavior

Systematic routine behavior risk factor assessment is the foundation for proactive behavioral counseling interventions and identifies all those in need of assistance. For example, having a system in place to identify and document tobacco use triples the odds of clinician intervention (Fiore et al., 2008). Assessment tools should be brief, easy to complete, and easily scored or interpreted. Assessment may range from a single focused question asked as part of taking the vital signs (e.g., Have you used tobacco products at all in the past 7 days?) to comprehensive tools known as health risk appraisals (HRAs). HRAs may be mailed or e-mailed to patients in advance of their appointments. Some are available for completion or scoring by computer; others are available on the Internet (e.g., HowsYourHealth.org, MyHealthyLiving.net).

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